Feeds

US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code

Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

US mobile companies have finally agreed to install free anti-theft software on their products, but not until the middle of next year and they plan to leave it turned it off by default.

The CTIA, which dubs itself "the Wireless Association," announced that its members – including Apple, Samsung, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile US, among others – will preload free software that will provide a kill-switch if the smartphone is stolen and enable remote wiping of handsets, and the ability to restore data from backups in the unlikely event of the purloined product being recovered.

"We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen," said Steve Largent, president of the CTIA. "By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones."

That said, they aren't exactly pulling out all the stops to do so. The new code will only be available on new handsets sold after July 2015 and it won’t be switched on by default, meaning less technical users might not know how to activate it.

The CTIA's members have been under increasing pressure to act on smartphone theft, which now accounts for over half of all theft cases in New York and San Francisco. State law officials in both regions formed the Save Our Smartphones initiative to try and encourage mobile manufacturers to do more to make stolen phones less valuable, but said this was being resisted because companies will lose out on selling lucrative insurance and replacement handsets.

“While CTIA’s decision to respond to our call for action by announcing a new voluntary commitment to make theft-deterrent features available on smartphones is a welcome step forward, it falls short of what is needed to effectively end the epidemic of smartphone theft," said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

"We strongly urge CTIA and its members to make their anti-theft features enabled by default on all devices, rather than relying on consumers to opt-in. The industry also has a responsibility to protect its consumers now and not wait until next year. Every week that passes means more people are victimized in street crimes that often turn violent, and more families will have to endure the needless loss of a loved one." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Tim Cook: The classic iPod HAD TO DIE, and this is WHY
Apple, er, couldn’t get parts for HDD models
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US
Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
Back to the ... drawing board: 'Hoverboard' will disappoint Marty McFly wannabes
Buzzing board (and some future apps) leave a lot to be desired
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.